Jenkins on catching Jackson: 'The stars were kind of aligned"
The longest offensive play in Bucs history might always be remembered for how it came up short of the end zone.
Josh Freeman connected for a 95-yard completion down the left sideline to veteran receiver Vincent Jackson in the third quarter Sunday afternoon. Jackson, who had a huge day, appeared destined to score the game-tying touchdown. But in a momentum-swinging play, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins chased down Jackson from behind, bringing him down at the 1-yard line.
"You talk about a game-changing play," Saints coach Aaron Kromer said. "An unbelievable individual effort," quarterback Drew Brees.
The Saints ended up stoning the Bucs on a goal-line stand, and won 35-28. Jenkins, who was the deep man in a Cover-2 defense on the other side of the field - at least 20-30 yards away from Jackson - admitted he was shocked he caught the Bucs receiver.
"You don't walk around thinking that you can run down receivers," Jenkins said. "And I think I might have just caught him on a play where he was a little gassed. The stars were kind of aligned there. But effort plays are what win you games."
Jackson, who had 216 yards receiving Sunday, declined to say whether he ran out of gas. But Jackson, who was limited in practice late last week due to a calf strain, admitted he "obviously wasn't 100-percent."
"I went to fight and gave it everything I got every play," Jackson said.
Jackson had caught the ball, between two Saints defenders, around the Bucs 30-yard-line. Jenkins said the first thing he thought was to just run, and see what happens, knowing Jackson still had 50 yards to go to the end zone. Jenkins aimed diagonally for the pylon, and caught Jackson around the 5-yard line.
"When you're from that far, you're hoping," Jenkins said. "As I got down the field, I saw him starting to slow down a little bit and I saw that I would be able to catch him. Whenever there's a big play, we always preach effort just to give us a chance. If we can get him down on the one, those odds may be slim but still better than seven points."
Jackson isn't known for his speed; the former Ohio State star cornerback ran a comparatively slow 4.53 40 yard dash at the 2009 combine and was moved to safety. "(Safety Roman Harper) was messing with me earlier this week about my 40-time, said I was kind of slow," Jenkins said, smiling. But not on Sunday.